by Tammi Reed Ledbetter
NASHVILLE (BP) — Twenty-three state conventions have increased the portion of Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries in moving toward the goal of a 50/50 allocation between in-state and SBC causes, continuing an upward trend spanning several years.
At the forefront this year: Messengers in Iowa and Nevada adopted budgets projected to generate a combined $1.4 million in additional support for the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, six seminaries, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and SBC operations by the Executive Committee.
With the Baptist Convention of Iowa to mark its 20th year in 2015, Executive Director Tim Lubinus justified increasing the SBC portion of the state’s Cooperative Program budget from 20 to 50 percent, stating, “A sign of this maturing of our convention isn’t measured by our independence of our national mission [entities], but by the strength of our support for them.”
The Nevada Baptist Convention, founded in 1979, raised its allotment to SBC causes from 35 to 50 percent of CP gifts from the state’s churches. A major reorganization begun four years ago envisioned a “lean and visionary” strategy to make Nevada Baptists “more self-sufficient financially and less dependent on ‘outside’ funding sources,” according to the plan that merged the state convention and four associations into one entity.
Other state conventions whose actions will increase by more than 1 percent the percentage of their budgets sent beyond their borders include Arizona, Dakotas, Minnesota-Wisconsin, New England and South Carolina. Meanwhile, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Indiana, Kansas-Nebraska, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Northwest, Penn-Jersey, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming are increasing the SBC portion in amounts ranging from .02 to 1 percent.
Iowa and Nevada join the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention as the only state conventions that forward half or more of CP receipts from local churches to the SBC without a “shared ministries” calculation. The SBTS, formed in 1998 with a 50/50 division from the start, moved to allocating 55 percent of undesignated receipts to the SBC in 2008. The SBC of Virginia, while in the process of phasing out its shared ministries category, currently allocates 51 percent of the resulting balance for SBC ministries and promotion and 49 percent for Virginia ministries.
Joining the 24 other state conventions that do not designate any items as dually beneficial to the state and national convention, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma this fall removed the designation of shared ministries, a category which accounted for 13.21 percent of the BGCO budget last year.
Only 15 of the 42 state conventions classify any budget portion as shared ministries and nearly a third of those made reductions in the portion they consider shared, including New England (35.77 to 8 percent), New Mexico (22.97 to 2.52 percent), Wyoming (18.75 to 13.7 percent) and Alaska (11.28 to 9.21 percent).
Two state conventions — the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Baptist General Association of Virginia — let churches customize what they label Cooperative Program giving. BGCT’s preferred giving plan retains 79 percent of undesignated receipts from affiliated churches for in-state use and 21 percent for one of three worldwide partners — the Southern Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or BGCT Worldwide. Churches may customize further by specifying the portions for in-state and out-of-state allocations. BGAV has pre-set giving tracks that a church can customize to fund causes of the SBC and/or CBF.
While most state conventions are increasing the percentage of their budgets for missions and ministry around the world, only a fourth are projected to actually contribute more dollars to SBC causes in the coming year. The actual dollar of a state convention’s allocation fluctuates annually depending on how well cooperating churches in the state are able to fund their respective budgets. Helping offset that impact are churches that adopt the “1% Percent Challenge” to increase the Cooperative Program portion of their undesignated receipts through their state conventions.
Analysis of financial data is based on information supplied by Baptist Press and state convention reports with projections for 2015 calculated or in some cases estimated by SBC Executive Committee staff.
Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN.
Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com).
Baptist Press (BP) is the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention and provides news to the 42 state Baptist papers. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.